2. Breaking the norm.

When I think of the Love Parade, I envision pictures of half naked people, wearing fluffy leg warmers and platform shoes, crazy coloured hair and hairstyles, and loud music coming from trucks that are surrounded by dancing people blowing their whistles. But I also see a wide variety of different ethnicities, gender and sexual preferences. Leopold and Andrews1 explain that we use our body without thinking. They continue to say that we use our bodies to express ourselves or who we would like to be. For example, when people wear costumes they tend to portray someone they can not be in their everyday life¹.

Debord2 has also found that a big part of the spectacle is appearance (§10) and can be identified as one of the main attributes of the Love Parade. The attendees of the Love Parade, as described above, were usually merely dressed, to express, what I believe, was their true self. Their half naked bodies were a symbol¹ for the celebration of the body and free love for everyone, which was reflected in the Parades motto year after year. According to Leopold and Andrews¹ the attributes of gender are a social construct that result in the stereotyping of gender, which is a common part of events. However, the Love Parade broke out of this norm and celebrated the need to express taboos such as otherness, fetishes, transgender and homosexuality3, to unite as one. I believe that it became a symbol of the Parade to express your identity through your clothing and openly celebrate taboos.

Debord ² emphasised that dreaming is a necessity if the society continues to see the fulfilment of their needs as necessary (§21), but simultaneously warns that the further one drifts into a fantasy world, the more they will drift away from reality (§33, 36). This Disneyfication4 reflects in the motto’s of the Parade, which spread positivity and were in line with Debord stating that “everything that appears is good; whatever is good will appear.” (§12)².

The creation of a fantasy world, where people could show their true identity, was brought to live with the Love Parade. As explained by Pine and Gilmore5 the experience economy seeks to construct and reconstruct ones identity through leisure. The Love Parade’s identity was clearly free-spirited and this reflected in its attendees. This ideal picture of freedom and pleasure combined, goes hand in hand with Adorno6 believing that “..individuality serves to reinforce ideology” (p. 14). Here you can find a video7 that gives an insight into Adornos theories on the society.

The created Ideology of a festival celebrating mental and physical freedom in a time of big changes raises the question: why did it have to die, to be reborn as just another commodity? Debord² observed the phenomenon of a shift in social life from being into having (§17) driven by capitalism. So the question is, did the organisers of the Love Parade lose the focus, which was to protest for freedom and love for all, and instead shifted towards a street festival merely representing its original, true identity?


1LEOPOLD, T., ANDREWS, H., 2013. Events and the Social Sciences [online]. [viewed 20 October 2016]. Available from: http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/qmu/detail.action?docID=1125159

2DEBORD, G., 1994. The Society of the Spectacle [online]. New York: Zone Books. Translation published by Donald Nicholson-Smith. [viewed 27 September 2016]. Available from: http://antiworld.se/project/references/texts/The_Society%20_Of%20_The%20_Spectacle.pdf

3BERLINLOVEPARADE.COM, 2014. About the Love Parade [online]. [viewed 28 October 2016]. Available from: http://www.berlinloveparade.com

4BRYMAN, A., 2004. The Disneyization of Society. Sociological Review [online]. Vol. 47, Article 44, pp. 380-387. [viewed 4 October 2016]. Available from: http://fasnafan.tripod.com/disneyization.pdf

5PINE, B. J., GILMORE, J. H., 1998. Welcome to the Experience Economy. Harvard Business Review [online]. [viewed 28 October 2016]. Available from: http://rushkolnik.ru/tw_files/4995/d-4994348/7z-docs/4.pdf

6ADORNO, T. W., 1975. Culture Industry Reconsidered. New German Critique [online]. No. 6, pp. 12-19. [viewed 04 November 2016]. Available from: http://orgnets.cn/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/21-adorno-culture-industry.pdf

7THE SCHOOL OF LIFE, 2015. SOCIOLOGY – Theodor Adorno [online platform YouTube]. [viewed 6 November 2016]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YGnPgtWhsw

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